Thursday, January 31, 2019

You'd Have to be a Lunatic - part 2

My on-going plan to put on a Franco-Italian 1940 game at Crisis Point in March has me building terrain.  The Menton area is characterised by steep hills rolling down to the azure waters of the Mediterranean.  The "Pearl of France" was then and is now, an affluent area and I fancied building a large villa with a terraced garden and, yeah, let's have a swimming pool too.

I've got some dark blue PVC board acquired as an off-cut from work and it makes great base boards.  On to this I've started to build up the three dimensional shape of the hill using foam-core.  All of the foam-core was attached using a hot glue gun.

The idea is that this hill will stick out from one side of the table, hence the flat edge.  This first bit of two inch high foam-core is to form a retaining wall alongside which a road will run.  Exploring the area with Google Streetview I've found plenty of these.

I'm going to use the old Airfix, now Dapol, semi-detached houses as the basis of my villa.  I have built this kit in the past and that previous model can be seen below for scale.  The new villa will be in brighter, more Mediterranean, colours and will get some modifications to turn it into a single dwelling.

The next job was to build up the structure of the hill.  This is the lower terrace with the depression for the swimming pool in place.

After the picture above, I glued on a series of roughly shaped triangles of foam-core to allow the far side of the hill to slope down to the edge of the baseboard.

Then I covered the triangles with layers of plaster-impregnated bandage.  The small, dark blue area in the centre of the picture below is a staircase connecting the upper and lower terraces of the garden.  It's made from off-cuts of the PVC basing material.

After that I coated the ground surface with my usual "gloop" of tile grout coloured with cheap acrylic paint.

I've also used Milliput to add coping stones to the top of the retaining wall and added a vertical row of stones to disguise the ugly join where the main retaining wall meets the recurving wall that slopes down to ground-level.

After that photo was taken I used some plastic strip to add seams to delineate the concrete panels that form the retaining wall.

At this point I had to build the swimming pool.  I had a plan to paint the underwater sides and floor of the pool in a turquoise blue and then use a sheet of clear plastic as the water surface.  However, I could see it would be difficult to attach the clear plastic to the sides of the pool with sufficient strength and without spoiling the surface of the water.

In the end I cut a piece of clear CD box plastic to make the water surface.  Onto this I glued 1 cm deep strips of thick plastic card to represent the above-water parts of the sides and ends of the pool.  In this case I glued using Bostick clear adhesive as using cyanoacrylate or polystyrene cement risked making the clear plastic go opaque.

I then glued the plastic walls to the inside of the swimming pool depression.  And yes, I did remember to paint the underwater part of the poll first...

After that had all dried, I cut squares of artist's mounting board to make the tiles around the pool (they disguise join between plasticard walls and foam-core pool liner).  I then added a finer tiled apron around the pool using some Wills textured plasticard.

As you can see, I've also added a brown base-coat to the soil parts of the garden.

The next job is to start building the villa.  More when that's under way.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Hammer and Anvil

Saturday Afternoon WargamesTM are back and I want to try and keep it that way throughout 2019.

I put out a call for players for a game last Saturday and it looked at first like we'd be quite small in number so I decided on Lion Rampant; something I can't put on if we have a large number of people playing and something we haven't played for a while.  Despite a sudden, last minute rush of interest I managed to stick with the plan but with two 28 point retinues each divided in two.

The table depicted an area in the foothills.  The far end (where new player Harry is sitting in the above photo) was pretty open with just a wheat field (cover only; not rough ground) and a gentle hill.  The near end was dominated by rough going where the road branched either side of an impassible rocky pinnacle.

We were using my fifteenth century Swiss and Burgundians and playing the Lion Rampant rulebook scenario "Hammer and Anvil".  This has a returning raiding party (in this case the Swiss) in danger of being caught between two groups of the enemy (the Burgundians).  In the picture above, Jamie's half of the Burgundians would deploy around the road junction, while Andy and Harry's Swiss would enter at the far end, followed a turn later by Leo's half of the Burgundians.

The picture above shows Andy's half of the Swiss beginning their advance.  On the far left of the picture a unit of pikemen are on the road.  On their left at the foot of the hill is a unit of Italian mercenary crossbowmen and to their left in turn there's a mounted crossbow unit.  The two units that have moved forward are one of halberdiers (Fierce Foot in Lion Rampant terms) and one of handgunners (Bidowers).

As required by the scenario, Jamie deployed his Burgundians in two locations.  A unit of Bidowers and a group of Mounted Men At Arms were at the road junction...

...while a unit of ordinance longbowmen (Expert Archers) entered from the road on his right flank.

Both sides then manoeuvred. The Swiss on the left (under Andy's control) made pretty good progress while on the right, Harry's Swiss seemed to find it hard work crossing the wheat-field. It wasn't bad going; he just couldn't make the required activation rolls! 

At the start of game turn 2 Leo could start dicing to bring on his forces immediately behind the Swiss force.  In fact, it emerged, rather too close behind the Swiss force. 

The picture below shows the remains of a unit of Irish kern (Bidowers) they have just fallen back from melee with the Swiss mounted crossbowmen in the hill.  Meanwhile the Burgundian coustilliers, on the left side of the road, is about to be shot at by the Italian mercenary crossbow-men.

Meanwhile the rest of the Swiss were advancing towards the road junction.

Jamie's Burgundian Men At Arms now charged Harry's Swiss halberdiers and routed them. 

Then (although reduced severely in numbers) they charged the left hand of Harry's two pike units.  Two pikemen were killed but the result was catastrophic.  Harry rolled snake-eyes on the Courage Test and pikemen routed!

The field was now looking distinctly empty as units disintegrated all over the place.  Three Swiss units were left with a chance of getting past the Burgundian "anvil"; a unit bidowers and another of pikemen on the right and the remains of the mounted crossbowmen on the left. 

Jamie's longbowmen were obviously going to be the key decider of the outcome. 

In what might have been a mistake the longbowmen decided to target the weak-in-numbers but fast-moving mounted crossbows.  Their shots were ineffective and the crossbows became the first Swiss unit to exit the table.

In the next turn, however, they about-turned and launched a wicked volley of arrows at the remaining Swiss pikes.  The resulting Courage Test saw the pikes break and with them went the last chance the Swiss commanders had of winning the scenario.

It was nice to get these figures back on the table and we all enjoyed the fast moving action of Lion Rampant.  In retrospect I think it would have been better for the Burgundians to have waited before bringing on the "Hammer" force.  Allowing the Burgundians to advance and clear some space on the baseline would have given them more flexibility of deployment and time to shoot at on-coming Swiss units.  

We got finished about twenty to four and had a few games of Tsuro afterwards.  A most enjoyable return to Saturday Afternoon Wargames.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Mexicans, a further stocktaking

Since the last time I did an overview of my Maximilian Adventure collection I've added a few more figures to both sides.  In this post I'll go through the French:

First up, I've added a Group of contra-guerilla cavalry...

These guys are a mix of Perry plastics using models from the ACW Cavalry and French Napoleonic Hussars boxes.

Having built the unit of Republican lancers I had three ACW cavalry left over and decided to buy a box of Perry Hussars to provide the men in frogged jackets the contra-guerillas need.  At this point Chris Barnes stepped in and sold me a box of French hussars for just a tenner; cheers Chris!

The ACW horses I could use as is but I thought the vandyked edging on the sheepskins of the French Hussar horses looked just too Napoleonic so I carved it off and used a hot pin to roughen off the edge of the sheepskin.

The sombrero headgear, so distinctive of soldiers in the Mexican campaign, were made from Green Stuff.  The chap below is typical of the conversions involved in putting the unit together.  The body and legs are from the Perry French Napoleonic Hussars.  I've used the legs with overalls in this case but I've carved off the stripe and buttons down the outside of each leg and added a fringe from Green Stuff.  I also built up the tops of the legs, front and read along a diagonal to give the impression of rawhide chaps worn over trousers.

The right arm is from the Hussars pack but I've replaced the hand with one holding a revolver from one of the Perry ACW infantry boxes.  The sabre in its scabbard is also from the Hussars box but I had to cut away the sabretache and rebuild the straps using Green Stuff.

I sliced the shako from the head of a Perry Hussar and then attached a Green Stuff-sculpted sombrero.  Finally I attached to his sling a repeating carbine from the ACW cavalry box and attached him to an unmodified ACW horse.

Sorry about the poor photos; I try to replace them when the light is better.

The other addition to the French force is this Group of contra-guerilla artillery.  The crew are straightforward paint jobs on Perry (again) ACW artillery crew.  I'm not sure of the correct uniform colours but these will do until more information comes along.  The officer is from Foundry.

The gun is my attempt at modelling the Canon de Montagne de 4 de Bange of which I understand the contra-guerillas had two.  It's a bit of a composite model with the wheels coming from the Airfix Royal Horse Artillery (spot on the right diameter), carriage from the Airfix ACW artillery but with the axle narrowed (the trail may still be a little long) and the barrel is one I found in the spares box.

At present this little gun serves to give the French player a sense of power but when I get round to giving the Republicans one of the full size Perry guns I'm sure this will fade rapidly.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Ivan, Fritz, and G I Joe

The second Christmas game this year was a four player Chain of Command extravaganza.

The setting was the fictional German town of Kreisberg and der Elde in the final days of the Second World War.  German defenders of the town were faced with holding off the Soviets from the east and the Americans from the west at the same time.

The table from the American end
In order to speed up play I did a lot of pre-game die rolling, designing three versions of the game (with four, five or six players) each with the levels of support pre-determined.  In the end we had four players, Andy with a Soviet infantry platoon, Jamie with a platoon of Fallschirmjaeger, Ron with a platoon of German infantry (less its Panzerschreck team), and Leo with a US tank platoon.

From memory Andy opted to reinforce his Russians with an SU-76 SP gun and a sniper. 

Andy and Jamie seem to have agreed that Ron should have the German reinforcements (probably sensible given the Fallschirmjaegers' impressive inherent firepower).  They bought a couple of lengths of barbed wire, another sniper, and a second Panzerschreck team.

Leo being a younger gamer playing his first game of Chain of Command, I decided to pick his supports in advance.  He had a (dismounted) armoured infantry squad and a four-man T-Force team in a Jeep.  The T-Force team were there to try to identify a couple of "persons of interest" to the American authorities.

We played two separate Patrol Phases with three markers per platoon.  The German patrol markers began at either end of the bridge over the Elde while the Soviet and US markers began on their respective baselines.  No particularly exciting Jump-off Point locations emerged.  Jamie's Fallschirmjaeger deployed facing Leo's Americans while Andy faced Ron's Heer.

On the eastern side of the river, four groups of civilians were scattered about.  Unknown to anyone but the referee, one of them included the Nazi Gauleiter of Kreisberg and another included Kreisberg Katie, the German radio announcer (actually Gladys Oldroyd, a former Mosleyite fascist from Bingley).  A group of civilians could be moved towards the bridge each time a German player rolled a single six on their command dice.

I'm not going to attempt to report on the whole game in detail.  I was too busy coming up with rules adjudications to keep much track.  However, I do know that early on a Panzerschreck round knocked out Andy's SU-76.

Leo was slightly hampered by his shortage of infantry against Jamie's Jaegers while Jamie's single Panzerschreck was always going to be stretched to deal with four Shermans!

Fierce fighting went on on the eastern side of town...

And eventually one group of civilians made it across the bridge.  And what was that they saw at the south end of the Sachsenkai?...

Ooh, a light aircraft waiting to carry off the Gauleiter!

It was at this moment that things took a turn for the cinematic.  Leo, seeing that he was about to lose one of his potential prizes, sent his T-Force team forward in a mad dash towards the aircraft.  They arrived but took fire from Jamie's Jaegers on the way and by the time they got there all in the Jeep were either dead or wounded.

Ron managed to manoeuvre around the Jeep but as he prepared to take off, Andy was heard to ask, "I have a '1',  can I activate my sniper to shoot the pilot?"

The exchange between Referee, Soviet player and German player then went...

R:  Roll to hit.

S:  That's a hit.

R:  OK, both possible targets are effectively leaders, roll to see who you hit, odds the pilot, evens the passenger...

S:  Odds; that's the pilot.

R:  OK, Ron, roll to see the effect of the hit.

G:  Six; that's a kill!

R:  Well not necessarily, he's a Leader so you need to roll to see what happens to him.  He'll probably only be wounded.

G:  A one.  What does that mean?

R:  It means he's dead.  Right, roll 2D6 to see how many inches to see how many inches the plane moves forward.

G:  Twelve!

R:  Right... and does it swerve?  1-2 is left, 3-4 straight on, 5-6 right.

G:  Six!

R:  OK so the plane swerves into the river...

R:  I guess we should roll on the Leader wound table to see what happens to the passenger...

G:  A one.  He's dead isn't he?

And so the Gauleiter of Kreisberg met his fate.  Better that than the hangman's rope perhaps?

Not long after that dramatic interlude Ron's Heer lost their last points of Force Morale and Jamie's Jaegers fired pretty much their last Panzerfaust (the Panzerschreck team had previously got in the way of a 75mm HE round).  As a result it just came down to who would achieve their remaining objective?

Would Andy get a squad across the bridge thus winning the Order of Suvorov (2nd Class) for his Regimental Commander or would Leo get a tank to the river and show Uncle Joe how we do things in Brooklyn?

It came down to the last Allied phase.  Both needed a 3 to activate and both got one.  Andy needed an average more to dash his men across the bridge.  Leo needed to drive his lead Sherman flat out and roll three sixes for movement!

Sadly, it seems we'd used up all the really dramatic dice rolling and by the time the first Sherman rolled up to the river, it was to find grinning Soviet riflemen awaiting them.

Soviet infantry have both ends of the bridge as the lead Sherman inches forward

A nicely dramatic game then, rich in story telling - perhaps something we'd associate more with Sharp Practice than with Chain of Command.  On the whole I have to give it to Andy as a narrow Soviet victory.

Crisis Point 2019

Just in case you didn't notice, I've added a page to the blog giving details of Crisis Point 2019.  I'll update it as more detail of planned games become available.